Along with generous vocal range, Barbara Barrett's song styling is supported by early music training. Starting with piano at a young age, she progressed to music theory and flute, finally finding her love of vocals at the age of thirteen. Yearly solo competition, choral and small ensemble work, and a brief stint in band, lead to pursuing and receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education, from the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music.
After graduation, she traveled with The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and The Blossom Festival Chorus, including performances at Carnegie Hall, and in Chautauqua, New York. She then began her study of jazz, ultimately including blues, soul, and R&B, as well as gospel and reggae. In February of 2012, she had her Vegas debut performance at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel in the A-List’s Pre-Valentine’s Day Fashion and Jazz Show. Venues in northeast Ohio including The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Club Isabella, The Bop Stop, Nighttown, Mike's Barn Musician’s Clubhouse in Elyria OH, Grand River Cellars in Madison OH, DeLuca’s Place in the Park in Elyria OH, Phil the Fire, The Pit, Opus, and a variety of other restaurants, clubs, and community events both public and private, have all been graced with her voice and styling. During her frequent trips to New York City, she has been well received on the stages of Smoke, and Cleopatra's Needle in Manhattan, and the Zebra Room of the Lennox Lounge in Harlem, receiving personal kudos from Art Blakey's saxophone player, Lou Donaldson.
In addition to leading her band Barbara Barrett and Beyond Category, singing contemporary and standard jazz, soul/neo-soul, blues, and R&B, she still sings contemporary gospel with her church choir; is the newest member/vocalist with One World Tribe, world music band out of Erie Pa; has sung with Yarbrough and Co, a small ensemble that specializes in traditional gospel and a capella spirituals, for several years; and has performed as soloist for The Townsmen Big Band. Barbara’s sultry alto/tenor speech-level voice, and her classically trained soprano range, afford her the ability to choose soul, R&B, gospel, and blues tunes as well as her favorite jazz standards, and give them fresh, creative artistry. Her voice quality, style, and range have been said to put you in the mind of Cassandra Wilson, Rachelle Ferrell, Lizz Wright, and even legendary jazz diva Sarah Vaughan. She easily covers and is influenced by the music of Jill Scott, Sade, and Chaka Khan, and has done many hours of studio work, recording lead and or background vocals in a variety of genres. Additionally, she created and successfully ran a residency program, "School House Blues" for high school students in the public school system, where she's had several years experience as an public school RN. School House Blues focuses on stress identification and management for students through a study of the blues of America. As an objective, students were helped to write their own blues songs! In addition to capturing audiences vocally, Barbara can be found performing West African dance, and storytelling, both in corporate settings as well as neighborhood arts programming.
When the historic Karamu House presented Scott Joplin's opera "Treemonisha", Barbara was given the lead role of Monisha, for which she won an Actor's Guild Award for Best Female Vocalist. A truly well-rounded entertainer, Barbara has acted and costumed in community theater, studies and performs several styles of dance, and has been filmed for commercials, promotional video, and television, including being featured in Part V of the nationally aired PBS documentary, "This Far By Faith".
Barbara's songwriting and arranging skills are fast becoming evident as she released her second CD, Dawning, which is her first collection of her own original, eclectic, soulful, jazzy material, in July of 2012. The collection includes spoken word, swing, funky, as well as bossa rhythms, background harmony, and even some a cappella lines. Dawning has also been described by her fans as having a "world-music" feel. Her 1st CD "Joyous!” is a historical tribute to African American sacred music. “Joyous!” is bluesy, soulful, jazzy arrangements of familiar hymns and spirituals, a Magnificat by African American Catholic composer Leon Roberts, contemporary gospel, and West African traditional music.